Adam first told me about the "Praluline" a few weeks before we went to France. He described it as a brioche studded with pink candied nuts. If you google photos of it (I am posting photos of it tomorrow), it looks kind of weird, but he assured me that this combo was one of the most delicious things he had ever tasted. I couldn't quite imagine what it would be like, but I instantly fell in love when I tried it.
I began dreaming of making them at home once we no longer had easy access to them. Finally after about 2 months of being home, I found a recipe for the pink candied nuts (which was really tricky, by the way; apparently these are not a common thing to make at home), and made them. They turned out perfectly and--although time consuming--they were not particularly difficult. Just have patience and follow the directions closely (I would read through them at least once before you start).
If you do get confused, I have linked to the original recipe, and he does step-by-step instructions with photos. I have tried to clarify a few things, because his verbal instructions got really confusing in the middle, but the photos may help. I don't like taking step-by-step instructions on something like this, because it can burn so easily while you are trying to take photos (sorry!). Plus my kitchen has rubbishy lighting, and the red food coloring looks particularly scary.
Tomorrow I will be posting the recipe that I use for brioche and how to make the brioche praluline.
Once you have made this part of the recipe, making the brioche is really quite straightforward. Then you don't have to go all the way to France for an authentic French Praluline!
recipe adapted slightly from Cooking with Bernard
3/4 cup white granulated sugar, divided
7-9 drops of red food coloring, divided
1/2 cup raw whole almonds (or you can use a mix of almonds and hazelnuts)
In a large frying pan combine 1/4 cup sugar, 2-3 drops of food coloring and enough water to just moisten the sugar. Turn the burner to high and while stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Once large bubbles form, add your nuts, reduce the heat a little, and stir constantly.
The sugar will melt, and then after a few minutes will begin to take on a sandy, grainy texture. This is good. Continue stirring as it begins to turn into a powdery sugar. Some of the sugar will not stick to the nuts. Continue to stir so that the sugar melts and once again coats the nuts.
Turn out the contents of the frying pan onto a sheet of wax paper, or silicone mat, and remove any sugar bits that are not coating nuts. Put those bits in a new saucepan (don't put them in the frying pan, you will need the frying pan for something else in a minute). Now add 1/4 cup of sugar to the saucepan, another few drops of food coloring, and just enough water to get it pretty moist.
Bring the sugar to a simmer, allowing all the little pink bits to melt, stirring all the while. Once everything is melted into a syrup, remove pan from heat, or turn off your gas burner. Return your candy coated nuts to the frying pan, and put on a cold burner, but don't turn the burner on.
Put a candy thermometer in your syrup mixture to check the temperature. You want the syrup that you have just created to get to 255°F. If it isn't there yet, put it over the warm burner and heat it until it reaches that. Continue to stir so that the syrup doesn't burn.
When the temperature of the syrup is close to 255°F, turn on the cold burner under the frying pan with the nuts in it, and set the temperature to a medium heat. Once the syrup has reached the desired temperature, immediately pour it over the nuts in the frying pan, stirring the nuts, constantly.
The sugar will become grainy again after a minute or two, then let it melt back down to syrup and stir to cover the nuts.
Once again you are going to remove the nuts from the frying pan, pull out the sugar bits that are not covering the nuts, put those bits in the saucepan (you should probably rinse the saucepan out before putting the bits in there), and add 1/4 cup of sugar, a few drops of food coloring and a little water to moisten the sugar. Let it melt down into a syrup and reach a simmer. Remove from heat, check the temperature with a candy thermometer. When it is close to 255°F, add the nuts back to the frying pan, and turn the heat to medium. Once the syrup in the saucepan has reached 255°F, pour it over the nuts, stirring constantly until they are coated.
Once the sugar begins to be grainy, allow any bits that are not sticking to the nuts to melt once again, stir to coat the nuts, and then pour all the candy coated nuts onto your sheet of wax paper or a silicone pad.
Put the wax paper on a cookie sheet, and preheat your oven to 180°F, or whatever the lowest temperature setting that your oven can go to.
Bake the nuts for about 35-40 minutes to dry them out. Check on them every ten minutes or so to make sure they are not burning.
Store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.
For best results, eat frequently, or put in a brioche!!! Happy cooking!